10 Pet Safety Tips for Winter

Posted by Safeco December 7, 2015
Cold Weather Pet Safety

Special Cold-Weather Considerations for Your Furry Friends

Your pets likely have pretty simple feelings about winter. Your dog thinks snow and ice are seasonal chew toys, while your cat just wants to find a warm spot to curl up inside with no help from you, thank you very much.

Dealing with snow and cold is a little more complicated than that, though, and it's up to you to see that the four-legged members of your family weather the season safely. To help ensure they do, here are 10 suggestions from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States:

  1. Keep them inside. If your dogs are used to daily walks or exercise sessions, stick to their familiar schedules to the extent possible. Otherwise, dogs and cats are better off staying inside as much as possible, especially when the temperature gets down around freezing or below.
  2. Keep them leashed. When you do go out, don't let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can easily become lost in storms. And, make sure your dog always wears ID tags, and that its microchip has your current contact information.
  3. Feed generously. If your pet does spend a lot of time outdoors, increase its supply of food, particularly protein. Outdoor activity can necessitate more food in the winter, because keeping warm depletes energy. Also make sure their outdoor water supply isn’t frozen.
  4. Don't leave them in the car. You've no doubt heard the warnings against leaving pets in the car in the summer, when high temperatures can lead to serious trouble. The same applies in reverse in the winter, when a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold.
  5. Check for cats under the hood. Speaking of cars, warm engines can attract cats (and even small wildlife) that crawl up under the hood. If there are outdoor cats or other animals in the neighborhood, bang sharply on the hood before you start the car to scare them away.
  6. Be careful with antifreeze. This is another perennial warning worth repeating for the winter. Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats, but it has a sweet taste that may attract them. Be sure to clean up any spills, and consider using products that contain less-toxic propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  7. Give them a warm place to sleep. Provide a cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow, up off the floor to avoid drafts. Or, place plenty of padding between the bed and the floor.
  8. Never shave your dog in the winter. Let its coat grow to help it stay warm. If you own a short-haired breed, consider a sweater or other covering from the base of the tail to the belly.
  9. Give them a good wipe down. When your pets come in from outside, wipe off their legs, paws and bellies. Otherwise, they could ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking themselves dry.
  10. No air-drying until spring. After a wintertime bath, be sure your pets are completely dry before letting them outside.

You may think pets, especially dogs, are immune to the cold weather. But, remember, they have special needs this time of the year, too. So, take good care of them, and then cuddle up and get cozy!


More Pet Safety Tips

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